How to Fill Large Holes in Furniture and Cabinets

November 11, 2014

How to fill large holes left from cabinet or drawer hardware.

This hole filling tip is handy if you ever want to change out hardware when painting furniture or kitchen cabinets!

I’ve shared how to fill holes in the wall, but this takes a little more finesse. Maybe because I’m pickier on furniture. :) I like this method because it gives you a finished look on both sides of the drawer or door. 

I shared this dresser than I repainted a few weeks back:
painting furniture the easy way
If you remember I hated the hardware so it had to go:
vintage brass hardware
These handles left especially large holes that couldn’t be filled with just putty or wood filler. I mean, they could – but because the back was open it would be a pain to try to get enough in there and get it all smooth. It would take numerous fillings and sandings. Ain’t nobody got time for that. 

The hole on the top is the size I was dealing with – there’s an easy way to take care of these:
filling holes in furniture
I’ve heard a few ways of filling bigger holes like this – toothpicks is one and wood plugs is another. Both work great, but I was going for the easiest, quickest and cheapest fix – the wood dowel:
wood dowels

I took the hardware to the store with me so I could figure out the perfect sized dowel.

I actually got a couple to make sure I got the right fit. I pushed it through the hole in the drawer and marked where I needed to cut – this way the hole would be filled on both the inside and outside of the drawer. (Although I’m not picky enough to make the inside look perfect).

I cut the small bit of dowel down and then covered it with wood glue:
filling holes with dowels
Put the dowel in the empty spot (I’m tired of saying hole) and make sure it’s flush.

You’ll want to let it sit for a bit to dry, but it was ready quicker than I thought it would be. When the wood glue is dry and the dowel is secure you can use some wood filler to even it out even more:
how to fill holes in cabinets
You’ll want to sand it down (lightly) and you may need to reapply the filler two or three times (and sand between) to get it nice and flush with the surface. 

After paint you won’t even notice it was there!:
painting furniture
This is a GREAT tip for anyone painting kitchen or bathroom cabinets and wanting to change out the hardware at the same time. Dowels are usually about three feet long and are super cheap – mine was less than a dollar. One would probably get you through a whole kitchen. :) 

Of course if you read the post about our dresser you know I decided to keep the hardware (that I used to hate) at the last minute. It looked great with the new color and I fell in love with it!:
graphite benjamin moore
So I ended up just drilling the dowel rods out – gah. I had only filled the top two anyway so not a big deal. 

But this is a great little tip that should save you some time and some wood filler. :) I love easy and inexpensive fixes! Do you have a trick like this for holes in walls or furniture?
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  1. Thanks for the great tip Sarah, that's sure to come in handy for me very soon and I think that hardware is beautiful.The color you chose for the dresser looks fantastic too.

  2. Great tip, and the piece looks so beautiful now. the color and the hardware.

  3. That is a great tip and I love what you did.

  4. Tip - for holes in walls...toothpaste (ok, don't recommend that, but it has been done). Those pulls are gorgeous.

  5. What a cool idea! Thanks for sharing! :) Julie

  6. Thanks for sharing how to fill in furniture holes; needed the suggestion for upcoming project (who would've thought in using a toothpick).:)

  7. (sorry if this repeats, cant tell if it posted)

    Any tips for filling holes when you are only changing hardware and not painting a piece?

    1. I was wondering the same thing. I have hardware for kitchen cabinets that are varnished wood. Of course, the new hardware doesn't match the existing holes. So I will need to fill and then drill new holes.

    2. Same question. Is there a way to fill a hole in wood furniture or cabinets that are stained and varnished (polyurethane, shellac, etc.)? It seems to me that every technique will show unless you refinish the entire thing in gel stain - maybe. But, if the look you want to go for is to KEEP the finish on the wood as it is, are there any options?

    3. To fill a hole on something you are not painting takes more work, unfortunately. To make it truly seamless you'd need to sand down the entire door and then restain after filling the hole. You CAN try to just touch up the area where you filled (you'll want to use stainable putty) but you would probably still be able to see it. You could also try just sanding down the small area around the filled hole and just restraining that spot, but it would most likely look a little different. Wish I knew of an easier way!

  8. I've used those wooden golf tees in the past, but your way works too!

  9. OH MY GOSH I just laughed so hard at "I’m tired of saying hole" that I woke all THREE of my dogs!!! You're awesome! You make me want to like... paint stuff.... but that would like... require effort... and yeah... that's not happening! :) Not yet!


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